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Will Facebook advertising ever challenge Google?

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Google is approaching its 16th birthday, and the service is unquestionably important for the majority of online businesses. Over the past decade companies large and small have used the search engine giant to reach customers from all over the globe.

And although a few challengers rose, not many have been able to put up a fight in the contextual and online advertising domain.

The social media explosion, on the other hand, is now termed as real alternative to Google’s online advertising dominance, with both Facebook and Twitter at the forefront.

However, even with their recognition, and rising costs and competition in online advertising, social sites are yet to take the fight to Google. Facebook, for instance, is still considered a place to educate customers of your offerings, rather than having them buy products.

People, when they buy things online, usually head to a search engine to research, and when they are ready, buy what they need.

The reality is people rarely buy from Facebook.

And although this might change in the future, entrepreneurs and large businesses both see much more consistent results from Google, and its ability to drive meaningful clicks.

Still, with rising costs and several PPC keyword auctions easily reaching $10 per click, it becomes nearly impossible to make a profit in these niches — unless you have a conversion-friendly website.

But if you add Facebook to your online marketing efforts, then it is very possible to drive traffic to your website at a significantly lower cost. This hold particularly true for seasons and trends.

If you can predict the demand, and target your social audience, then Facebook ads are always worth it.

Marcus Daniels is a real geek. He loves to get his hands really dirty with CSS, PHP and HTML 5. He loves to build, destroy and rebuild websites.

2 Comments
  • Chaser

    You make a great point Marcus. The truth is that most people I know who use Facebook (including myself) just scroll past the Ads because they’re there to socialize and not to buy things. I think google and other sites are more effective because there’s much better odds people are on those sites looking to buy something.

  • Angela

    The last sentence is key. Finding your target and demand on Facebook is a lot more difficult than it sounds. However, I do think as the knowledge and data about social media increases, Facebook and Twitter advertising can be a true powerhouse. Nice thoughts, Marcus.

Caching

Digital Marketing Tip – Implement Fragment Caching

Fragment caching works by identifying sections of code, which take up time and resources, and caching just those sections.

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Implement fragment caching

As far as performance goes, WordPress is brilliant for a smaller website, right out of the box. Your front-end pages load very quickly, data is retrieved from the database and saved to it very fast on the back-end.

But, when you try to add loads of content, with loads of metadata for every post, then you will start to see things slow down, considerably. This is quite common and there are plenty of ways to sort the problem out.

Use a Caching Plugin

Caching plugins are the most used tools on WordPress websites, a way of speeding things up and there are plenty to choose from.

Each plugin has its own approach but, overall, the bit that slows everything down, i.e. a page that needs to load, is placed in a temporary location for storage.

That way, when the page is requested again, it can be retrieved much quicker because the stored page is called on instead of the front-end page having to be loaded each time.

However, once this storage reaches an age which is determined beforehand it will be removed and then recached to make sure users don’t get old data.

Some of the best plugins for this are:

  • W3 Total Cache
  • W3 Super Cache
  • WP Fastest Cache

Because each has its own method of doing things, each plugin has its own set of pros and cons. Overall, the popular solutions have one common problem – they cannot cache data for a logged in user.

This might seem to be something of an oversight; after all, why cache data if your editors or your users won’t see the benefit? It might interest you to know that this has been left out intentionally and for a very good reason.

Imagine that your website has exclusive content that is only for subscribers who pay for it. If you cache the data for this content, there is a good chance that you could serve it to users who do not pay for it which allows anyone to get your content without subscribing.

So, does this mean that a website driven by membership cannot take advantage of caching? Of course, they can.

This is where fragment caching comes in.

What is Fragment Caching?

In the scenario above, we cannot cache all the content on a whole page load, but we can still use caching. Fragment caching works by identifying sections of code, which take up time and resources, and caching just those sections.

This means your unpaid subscribers don’t get to see the content reserved for those who pay.

How much time you can save will depend on how many fragments are cached but, where you have a large and complex website, the time savings will soon add up.

How do we implement fragment caching? Very easily, thanks to something called the Transients API. This is a storage method for temporary data that has an arbitrary timeframe.

Have a look at this example:

// Get an existing copy of transient data, if there is one
if ( false === ( $foo = get_transient( ‘foo_transient’ ) ) ) {
// Nothing was found or the transient has expired; regenerate it!
$foo = someExpensiveCodeOrQuery();
set_transient( ‘foo_transient’, $foo, 2*HOUR_IN_SECONDS );
}
// Use $foo somehow

On the second line, we have called a method called get_transient and this will try to pull up the cached value for foo_transient. If there is a transient and it is still in date, the cached value is returned and the code will then move to the seventh line.

If no value is found, a value of false is returned and the third, fourth and fifth lines will then be executed. The result is $foo being saved under the name of foo_transient and an expiration time of two hours is added.

Fragment caching is not a method to fix everything but it can be an incredibly useful tool for reducing page loading by seconds and, as we all know where page loading times are concerned, every second counts.

Combine fragment caching with other methods of speeding up WordPress for significant gains in speed.

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Editorial

The ONE skill most digital entrepreneurs do not have

After many years of mentoring digital entrepreneurs, I find that there is constantly one core skill they do not start with…

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Writing skill entrepreneurs

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of being a digital marketing mentor to a lot of MBA students and entrepreneurs.

I have always loved being able to help people who are just discovering what the internet can do for their businesses and how thinking asymmetrically can create growth and profits online.

In the process of mentoring a lot of these awesome people, I started to see a common trend and it profoundly affected me and has made me rethink everything about the way I teach digital business.

The internet is awesome.

It’s made it possible for an entrepreneur or a small team of people to create websites and online applications that compete against much larger businesses. This because they have mastered some skillset that is in demand and have figured out how to share it profitably with the rest of the world.

I used to believe that when entrepreneurs are starting to learn about starting an online business, they needed to learn everything about business, tools, terminology and technology.

While those are all important, there is one critical skillset that is often missed when people are learning to build digital businesses.

The ability to write properly and eloquently.

Frustrated writer

I have been stunned and shocked to see people who can master every other component of digital marketing be so intimidated by a blank screen or sheet of paper.

Lots of entrepreneurs are terrified of writing. They love building products, selling products, tinkering with website elements, landing pages and doing everything else but they are scared to actually learn how to write compelling content.

The irony is, they love consuming content from other writers!

My story

When I built one of my successful online businesses, it was based on Microsoft Windows. I realized that to really understand how to create compelling content around software, I had to learn how to write. Even about a topic I was only peripherally aware of at the time.

So I did.

I wrote over 7,000 articles in less than 8 years.

I wrote on websites, syndication sites, on financial sites, press releases, landing pages, editorials and more.

I started one article at a time and did it so much that it became second nature. I was edited by tough editors at sites like Seeking Alpha and had to rewrite content often to get it published. It was tough starting out but I learned.

Eventually, my content was so compelling that my website had 50,000 daily visitors and in 2010, I received a Microsoft MVP award for the Windows Desktop.

Build Conference Anaheim

Me at the Microsoft Build Conference in Anaheim California – 2011

My ability to write got me into conferences where I met most of the popular technology writers I had always admired. I was a member of the press pool at Microsoft events – because I learned how to write.

That business made me close to a million dollars based on my digital marketing abilities BUT at the end of the day it all came down to one thing.

The ability to write and express myself.

It’s critical.

I learned this the hard way

When I would walk entrepreneurs through digital marketing basics and eventually get their sites up and running, I would find out that they either didn’t know how to write or hated writing.

That changed the way I teach.

Now I start off with a basic digital writing and copywriting class.

Once my students are able to write somewhat decently and properly, only then do we move to keyword research, idea validation etc.

My advice to entrepreneurs starting out

If you have an idea for an online business, you should take a writing class. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product or a service, you should learn how to write.

You should head to online resources like Udemy and search for “writing”.

Yes, you can hire a copywriter to do some things for you but the truth is, even the best copywriters can’t replace you.

Customers and clients are drawn to YOU. 

They come to your site, connect to you on social media and respond to your content because it’s YOU. This is true for every kind of business and it’s also why the most effective way to sell professional services online is with your blog.

The blog allows customers and visitors to see how you think and figure out whether your values are compatible with theirs. If they like how you think and express yourself, you’re more likely to make that sale or convert that visitor.

Also practice writing!

“I’m not a good writer!” – that’s a common refrain I hear.

No one starts out as a good writer. No one.

Some people do have natural talent but even that takes honing and practice until it’s perfected. Write one hundred articles in a month and I GUARANTEE you that the first and last article will be dramatically different.

The bottom line

The ability to express yourself is one of the most critical skills you can develop as an adult. It’s what gets you the VC money, what gets you the raise at work, the first date with a significant other and what gets your content to convert.

Learning how to write can change your life. I know this because it changed mine.

If you don’t know how to write, learn and if you’re a good writer, practice. This skill is often the difference between success and failure online.

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Editorial

The future impact of Artificial Intelligence on content creation

Companies and countries are starting to map out some of the potential ways this could play out.

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The impact of AI on content creation

Recently, in the technology and marketing communities, we have started to have a robust discussion about the future impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the world’s workforce. Companies and countries are starting to map out some of the potential ways this could play out.

Let’s take a quick step back. Let’s define Artificial Intelligence. As usual, Wikipedia has a pretty good definition.

Artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals…. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”

Wikipedia

AI refers to the ability of computers and machines to learn and perform tasks that traditionally only humans could do.

AI is being used already

There are radical developments in AI happening in the following fields:

Healthcare

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the healthcare industry by assisting doctors. According to Bloomberg Technology, Microsoft has developed AI to help doctors find the right treatments for cancer. There is a great amount of research and drugs developed relating to cancer. In detail, there are more than 800 medicines and vaccines to treat cancer. This negatively affects the doctors, because there are too many options to choose from, making it more difficult to choose the right drugs for the patients. AI helps with those problems.

According to CNN, a recent study by surgeons at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington successfully demonstrated surgery with an autonomous robot. The team supervised the robot while it performed soft-tissue surgery, stitching together a pig’s bowel during open surgery, and doing so better than a human surgeon, the team claimed.

Driverless cars

Advancements in AI have contributed to the growth of the automotive industry through the creation and evolution of self-driving vehicles. As of 2016, there were over 30 companies utilizing AI into the creation of driverless cars. A few companies involved with AI include Tesla, Google, and Apple.

Finance and economics

Financial institutions have long used artificial neural network systems to detect charges or claims outside of the norm, flagging these for human investigation. Financial Institutions also routinely use AI and Machine Learning to determine credit worthiness.

Video games

In video games, artificial intelligence is routinely used to generate dynamic purposeful behavior in non-player characters (NPCs). In addition, well-understood AI techniques are routinely used for pathfinding. Some researchers consider NPC AI in games to be a “solved problem” for most production tasks.

Military

Worldwide annual military spending on robotics rose from 5.1 billion USD in 2010 to 7.5 billion USD in 2015. Military drones capable of autonomous action are widely considered a useful asset. In 2017, Vladimir Putin stated that “Whoever becomes the leader in (artificial intelligence) will become the ruler of the world”.

Advertising

A report by the Guardian newspaper in the UK in 2018 found that online gambling companies were using AI to predict the behavior of customers in order to target them with personalized promotions.

Developers of commercial AI platforms are also beginning to appeal more directly to casino operators, offering a range of existing and potential services to help them boost their profits and expand their customer base.

and more…

My concern though is a little less altruistic and more personal.

artificial_intelligence_brain

What is the future of content creation when a machine can write better than I can?

So many questions.

What is the future of blogs, blogging, content and landing pages when I can come up with a title and feed it to a program to auto-generate the content? Today we have plugins for WordPress that auto “spin” content and come up with pretty tacky “articles” but that technology is crap today.

What happens when those types of apps are perfected?

Here’s the challenge – on one hand I can make the case that if a machine can predict my credit worthiness with greater certainty than a banker, it should be able to create more engaging content than any blogger can.

Let’s go a little deeper.

If it can create more engaging content, it should be able to create more organic keywords and more effective calls to action than any human writer could.

Theoretically this would mean MUCH more profitable articles and landing pages i.e. more $$$ for the advertisers.

On the other hand, this means, a LOT of digital marketing bloggers, writers and copywriters would be out of jobs. That’s not even considering the newspaper business which could theoretically all be run by machines in real time putting EVERY reporter out of business… but I digress.

AI is an asymmetrical weapon, both in business and warfare. The first businesses to deploy this technology will win and grow exponential marketshare compared to companies that depend on real human beings.

The creepy part is, when AI is deployed, you as a consumer will never know. I mean think about it, you assume I am a human being writing this article right? You have no idea.

These are some of the conundrums I think we will face very soon with the rollout and deployment of AI. What do you all think?

Let me know in the comments below…

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